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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

Ageism in Our Own Minds

I have never been a fan of prejudice in any of it’s forms. But I just caught myself!

Right here on Medium, I read “If Life Is a Video Game, Then These Are the Cheat Codes” by Tim Denning. It was a really good article in which the author not only makes great points on living a satisfying life, but writes in a way that speaks to young people through a gaming analogy. He writes about navigating life, and his advise is labeled as “cheat codes,” as in ways to get around challenges within a game that is too challenging.

Here’s where I caught myself. As I was reading and making mental notes on how these “cheat codes” can aptly apply to me, in the back of my mind I am discrediting the author who is obviously quite young. I could practically envision myself disdainfully rocking on the front porch referring to the writer as a young whippersnapper -- not an attractive mental look, especially since I was literally sitting on my front porch. Throughout the article, Denning cites other people’s ideas. I did some research and they were all young too. I found myself on the edge of condemning the article and the recommended reading as fluff. What do these kids know about…anything? Okay, Denning probably knows about electronic gaming. What can he know about personal growth, decision making, and getting things done amidst the chaos of life? Yet, I know in my heart that if the author’s picture showed someone with gray hair and omitted the gaming analogy, I’d think this was, no-holds-barred, a great article.

In one section, he writes about “generational programming” that can’t be overwritten. Here I found irony all around.

An excerpt from Denning’s article:

A revelation for problems with your parents

Parents can be a pain in the ass. Sometimes you just can’t see eye-to-eye on an issue. Like I try and tell my parents that AI changed everything in the last 6 months. I also tell them gasoline cars are dead and electric is the future. They refuse to understand both ideas. Cheat code: there comes a time when the difference in generations between yours and your parents is obvious. It’s better to accept that some generational programming can’t be overwritten. Love your parents for the generation they belong to and quit tryna change their minds on topics they may never understand (or want to).

My thought process:

  • First of all, kids can be a pain in the ass too.

  • Sometimes we just can’t see eye-to-eye on an issue. True.

  • Electric is the future, but in the present, gasoline cars are alive and well. (Ha! Gotcha, Sonny) And we don’t have a clue what good and bad will come from AI. It’s here, but we’re still waiting for the reckoning and the glory. It may be awhile.

  • THEY refuse to understand ideas? Does this writer does not have children? Because old people are the ones who can’t understand?!

I take a break from reading. I chuckle at the irony. People who have children and parents say these same things about both their elders and their offspring. Whatever I have said about my children, my parents said about me. Whatever I have said about my mother, my children have said, or will say it, about me. This is universal. The author, at 37 (I estimated him to be younger -- they all look like kids to me), may not realize that his parents shake their heads at the things HE doesn’t understand, and that someday his kids will also shake their their heads at him.

Let’s get back to my own fault in this. I’m reading a degree of anti-old ageism. Do I not see ageism in my own head? If I were to have a choice of working with two salespeople, for example, what assumptions might I make? Is the younger person more tech savvy and better able to handle the computer part of the sale with ease? Will the older person have more in common with me and be easier to talk to? Will the older one be a more dedicated employee who will provide better customer service? Will the younger one know more about the newest technology? What assumptions will each of them make about me? Will those assumptions turn out to be true about me? Even if this is so, would these assumptions be true about my same-generation friends? Absolutely not. Of my group of closest friends, four are professionally involved in technology.

Ageism is a baseless prejudice just like any other. While we have the right to be offended by it, we also have to guard our own thoughts against it. We old folks have to remember that we are individuals, not demographics, and the same can be said for everyone else of every age.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get off my porch rocker and get ready for my upcoming teleconference.

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